Brian Gaffney and Rob Labritz are among a contingent of five Met Section PGA pros who will compete in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol GC in Springfield, NJ, July 25-31. Both are veterans of the contest, and both have hoisted the crystal trophy awarded to the low club pro in the last of the year’s four majors. They earned their places with top-20 finishes in the PGA Professional Championship (PNC) held at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY.
Labritz, director of golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, claimed his spot in the PGA Championship in what has become his trademark fashion—with a spectacular shot in the PNC. The 45-year-old snaked in a convoluted 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to stay out of a seven-man playoff for the last spot in the field at Baltusrol. Fighting an adrenaline rush knowing he would be in the playoff with a two-putt par, Labritz stroked with confidence. “I had a good line on it and it went in,” he says.
In 2013, Labritz holed out a spectacular pitch shot from 95 yards on the second playoff hole in the PNC at Sunriver Resort in Oregon to earn his spot in the PGA Championship. Video of the shot appeared on ESPN and went viral. This marks his fifth appearance. Labritz was the low club pro champion at Whistling Straits in 2010 and competed in the major in 2002 and 2003 as well.
Brian Gaffney tees off on first hole of final round of the PNC.
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Gaffney, head pro at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, made it to the winner’s circle with Jason Day at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits last year. This year, in a tightly controlled tournament performance heavy on pars, he finished two under over four rounds to earn his place at Baltusrol. He also competed in the major in 2000, 2009, and 2012, and in the U.S. Open in 2012 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Joining the two Westchester-club professionals will be Mark Brown of Tam O’Shanter Club, Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow Country Club, and Ben Polland of Deepdale Golf Club. Winged Foot’s Grant Sturgeon, and Saxon Woods’ Charles Meola also made the cut at Turning Stone, but finished outside the 20-player line for a spot at Baltusrol.
Met PGA pros have won three of the last four low club pro trophies in the PGA Championship. In addition to Gaffney and Labritz, Greg Bisconti of St. Andrew’s won in 2009.